Thousands of Rockets Rain on Israel, but not in the NY Times

Leo Rennert
While in Gaza, New York Times Jerusalem bureau chief Jodi Rudoren took some time to interview Jawdat Khoudary, one of the wealthiest men in the coastal enclave, who presides over a major construction company. Khoudary, 52, is a well-traveled lover of antiquities whose family has lived in Gaza for more than two hundred years. And Rudoren also tells readers that he cultivates thousands of cactuses in his 100,000-square-foot compound ("As Bombs Fell in Gaza, a Rich Cactus Lover Could Cultivate Only Patience" page A10).

This idyllic picture is interrupted by eight days of Israeli bombardments, which left Khoudary a bit shaken but otherwise OK.

So much for background. The most interesting part of Rudoren's article focuses on discussions Khoudary has with his five children -- two girls who studied at American University in Cairo, two older boys working toward engineering degrees at the Islamic University in Gaza, and the youngest boy, who loves to travel.

During and after Israel's counterterrorism offensive, the father is beset by questions from his children. "Like so many people here, Mr. Khoudari said the most difficult thing was trying to explain the situation to his children," Rudoren writes. "All of them have one question: why? Why Israel attack us, why Israel tries to make our life more complicated. You cannot give the direct answer."

At this point, any reporter worth his/her salt would ask Khoudary the obvious question: Why, Mr. Khoudary, won't you give them a direct answer? Why won't you tell them that Israel's eight-day bombardment was a response to years of thousands of rockets fired at civilian populations in southern Israel from Gaza? Why, Mr. Khoudary, won't you point a finger at terrorist groups like Hamas and Islamic Jihad that are making your family's life so complicated?

Rudoren fails to challenge Khoudary's lame excuses and never brings up the terrorist war against Israel waged under his nose. Her aim instead is to present Khoudary as a totally sympathetic figure, who's at sixes and sevens when it comes to explaining to his kids the causes of Israel's conflict with the likes of Hamas. As such, she's directly complicit in his evasions.

Nor does she ask Khoudary why his four children with their university educations have to even ask, "Why? Why Israel attack us? Why Israel has to make our life more complicated?"

Still, to be fair to Rudoren, there are a couple of other items that partially make up for the disregard of rocket warfare against Israel when she describes this Gaza father's discussions with his children.

Whether intended or not, she gives the lie to the media's reflexive shorthand that there are only poor, deprived Palestinians in Gaza. Her article lifts the curtain ever so slightly on Gaza's millionaires, their palatial estates and high living.

In a similar vein, her article gives the lie to the notion that all of Gaza's inhabitants are refugees from Israel's 1948 Independence War. Khoudary's family, it turns out, has its roots in Gaza dating back more than 200 years. And his family is by no means the only one with such deep ties to Gaza.

Still, overshadowing these tidbits is the overriding failure of a New York Times journalist to challenge Khoudary's supposed ignorance of the real causes of Gaza's war with Israel.

Leo Rennert is a former White House correspondent and Washington bureau chief of McClatchy Newspapers

While in Gaza, New York Times Jerusalem bureau chief Jodi Rudoren took some time to interview Jawdat Khoudary, one of the wealthiest men in the coastal enclave, who presides over a major construction company. Khoudary, 52, is a well-traveled lover of antiquities whose family has lived in Gaza for more than two hundred years. And Rudoren also tells readers that he cultivates thousands of cactuses in his 100,000-square-foot compound ("As Bombs Fell in Gaza, a Rich Cactus Lover Could Cultivate Only Patience" page A10).

This idyllic picture is interrupted by eight days of Israeli bombardments, which left Khoudary a bit shaken but otherwise OK.

So much for background. The most interesting part of Rudoren's article focuses on discussions Khoudary has with his five children -- two girls who studied at American University in Cairo, two older boys working toward engineering degrees at the Islamic University in Gaza, and the youngest boy, who loves to travel.

During and after Israel's counterterrorism offensive, the father is beset by questions from his children. "Like so many people here, Mr. Khoudari said the most difficult thing was trying to explain the situation to his children," Rudoren writes. "All of them have one question: why? Why Israel attack us, why Israel tries to make our life more complicated. You cannot give the direct answer."

At this point, any reporter worth his/her salt would ask Khoudary the obvious question: Why, Mr. Khoudary, won't you give them a direct answer? Why won't you tell them that Israel's eight-day bombardment was a response to years of thousands of rockets fired at civilian populations in southern Israel from Gaza? Why, Mr. Khoudary, won't you point a finger at terrorist groups like Hamas and Islamic Jihad that are making your family's life so complicated?

Rudoren fails to challenge Khoudary's lame excuses and never brings up the terrorist war against Israel waged under his nose. Her aim instead is to present Khoudary as a totally sympathetic figure, who's at sixes and sevens when it comes to explaining to his kids the causes of Israel's conflict with the likes of Hamas. As such, she's directly complicit in his evasions.

Nor does she ask Khoudary why his four children with their university educations have to even ask, "Why? Why Israel attack us? Why Israel has to make our life more complicated?"

Still, to be fair to Rudoren, there are a couple of other items that partially make up for the disregard of rocket warfare against Israel when she describes this Gaza father's discussions with his children.

Whether intended or not, she gives the lie to the media's reflexive shorthand that there are only poor, deprived Palestinians in Gaza. Her article lifts the curtain ever so slightly on Gaza's millionaires, their palatial estates and high living.

In a similar vein, her article gives the lie to the notion that all of Gaza's inhabitants are refugees from Israel's 1948 Independence War. Khoudary's family, it turns out, has its roots in Gaza dating back more than 200 years. And his family is by no means the only one with such deep ties to Gaza.

Still, overshadowing these tidbits is the overriding failure of a New York Times journalist to challenge Khoudary's supposed ignorance of the real causes of Gaza's war with Israel.

Leo Rennert is a former White House correspondent and Washington bureau chief of McClatchy Newspapers